Never mind the plumber, what about the treatment of depression
If your geyser bursts, you phone the plumber. If you break your arm, you go to your nearest casualty department. Why then, if you’re feeling depressed, do you not seek help? There are a number of possible reasons. Sometimes we think, “It will get better” or “It’s just a phase.” Sometimes we are scared of asking for help as depression is an unknown territory – who can help me or what will the treatment involve? Sometimes we worry about what other people will think – does this mean I’m weak or going crazy? There is still a stigma around mental illness and the treatment of depression.
Depression can be a scary place. You may feel isolated and overwhelmed by negative thoughts and emotions about yourself, others and the world in general. Every day tasks can turn into major challenges. When a person feels depressed, they often start withdrawing from friends and family and avoid tasks that previously may have brought them pleasure (such as exercise, hobbies and socializing). It is often difficult to initiate tasks that will bring about positive changes, including asking for help from close family or friends or seeking professional advice.
Talking about depression can also help de-stigmatize mental illness. Looking after our minds is just as important as looking after our bodies. I believe that therapy is an essential part of a treatment plan for depression. It seems common to be on an antidepressant but not see a therapist to work through issues that could be at the core of the problem or to learn better coping strategies. There is no “magic pill” available (if there was, no one would be depressed!). However, medication forms an important part in treating clinical depression. A combination of therapy and medication is often the treatment of choice.
It is important that a person showing signs of depression seek professional help for an assessment and treatment plan. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) can be contacted for a referral to a registered psychologist in your area on 011 262 6396. They also have an emergency crisis line 0800 567 567 (or SMS 31393).